“Colombia is one of the few sources of hope for refugees,” said the UN High Commission on Refugees on Friday, according to news-wire EFE.
High Commissioner Antonio Guterres speaking at the end of an executive committee meeting in Geneva, said he felt “hopeful” for the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group which is set to begin in two weeks.
With about 400,000 refugees and 3.8 million internally displaced people, Colombia was identified in June as the largest Latin American producer of refugees and seventh worldwide. However Guterres was hopeful that the current peace process will impact positively on the situation of these people.
“We have great hope that the peace process will allow us to advance towards a solution for refugees and the displaced,” said Guterres, “We can only have total success if peace becomes a reality in Colombia.”
On October 17 the government and Colombia’s largest guerrilla group start the peace process in Norway’s capital Oslo seeking an end to the conflict which has ravaged the country for nearly 50 years. Cuba and Norway will act as facilitators, and Chile and Venezuela as guarantors in the process.
The High Commissioner said the government’s Victims and Land Restitution Law, intended to provide compensation to victims of the armed conflict, has been a very positive step towards peace.
Guterres also stressed the importance of the help presented to Colombia over the years from neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela, “developing countries with their own difficulties, who always have maintained policies of shared responsibility.”